8 January 2021

Andrew Kötting's Swandown (2012)


I know this is an insane premise but then could a mixture of Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair be anything else? This is a journey on a swan-necked pedalo from Hastings to the site of the Olypic Games taken in 2011: a total of 160 miles. We meet Alan Moore on the way, who says (probably more in seriousness than jest) that what the film is about is that Ian Sinclair doesn't want anything to happen in Hackney without his permission. And Sinclair on the dreaded Olympics: 'There's not a thing there that stands up to the reality of being on the River Thames.' So there we have it.

All kinds of odd things happen: for instance, somewhere west of Bodiam Castle they drift past a young woman who seems to be doing an impression of Millais's Ophelia painting (suicide on the river, that is), but both Sinclair and Kötting totally ignore her: stage-managed, of course, and it's for laughs, but it gives a general taste of the film. There are also shots from silent movies, quotations from poems and books, all of course to be expected.

The merry pair travelled for four weeks in September and October 2011, during which they got through 84 litres of water, two bottles of whisky, six bottles of wine and twenty-four cans of Special Brew. They also 'got through' eight pairs of sunglasses, a tailormade suit, a pair of walking boots and, er, a camper van. (Well, that's what it says at the end of the film.) It is also noted that Kötting wore the same clothes every day, although Sinclair 'was changed regularly.'

I'm sure I don't have to say that the whole thing is absolutely preposterous, but of course also really enjoyable.

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